Migrant Smuggling — European police simultaneously arrested 103 people in 10 countries in what they described as the biggest raid on a migrant smuggling ring in the history of the E.U., notes Reuters. Police said the Kosovo-based traffickers have links to the Turkish underworld and specialize in bringing migrants to Europe from the Middle East, especially, Iraq, Libya and Syria, for thousands of euros per head. More than a dozen countries worked together for a year and a half to track down the traffickers. Transnational cooperation against human smuggling has been getting more efficient, according to police.
Europe’s ‘New Poor’ — The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said it’s struggling to assist growing numbers of the so-called new poor in Europe, reports VOA News. IFRC’s survey of its 52 national societies shows that millions of people suffer from welfare cuts, lack of food aid and medical care and many face evictions and homelessness amid the economic recession. According to E.U. data, upwards of 26 million people are jobless across the 27 E.U. countries.
Human Rights Coverage — The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) notes that Latin America receives the most coverage of its human rights abuses. Rights violations in Latin America from 1981-2000 received 42-82% more media attention than similar abuses elsewhere in the world, according to CJR. Journalists said looming U.S. strategic and economic interests in the region, early democratization of Latin American nations and the presence of the Catholic Church could have contributed to the “Latin Bias.”
Nestlé Spying Case – The Swiss food company Nestlé has been ordered to pay compensation after it was found liable in the secret infiltration of a non-governmental organization, reports the FT. The civil case followed allegations in 2008 that an employee of the security company Securitas AG had attended meetings of anti-globalisation group Attac, on behalf of Nestlé, in 2003. Nestlé — the world’s biggest food company – has been trying to repair relations with NGOs since its clashes with activists in the 1980s over sales of baby milk formula in Africa, which led to widespread boycotts, notes the FT.
Colombia Drug Laws – The Colombian government is considering a proposal which would decriminalize use of “synthetic” drugs – including ecstasy — in an attempt to tackle drug use and trafficking, reports the BBC. Current laws ban cocaine and marijuana, although people are not prosecuted for possessing small amounts. “The problem in Colombia is a problem with soft drugs: marijuana and cocaine. The curse of drug trafficking depends fundamentally on cocaine and the decriminalization in the world will end this business,” senator Roy Barreras was quoted as saying. But critics say the inclusion of synthetic drugs will only confuse the debate, as the term could also be applied to heroin, notes the BBC.
China Hacking Claims – The computer systems of the New York Times have reportedly been attacked in recent months by hackers with possible links to the Chinese military, writes the Guardian, possibly in retribution for a series of stories run by the paper exposing the vast wealth accumulated by the family of outgoing premier Wen Jiabao. Increased hacker activity around the time of the U.S. presidential elections led to fears that the hackers aimed to shut down the paper’s publishing systems, but the attackers’ movements suggested that the main target was the paper’s Beijing bureau chief’s emails, reports the Guardian. Responding to the claims, China’s ministry of national defense told the New York Times that Chinese laws forbid any action that damages internet security, and called the allegations “unprofessional and baseless,” reports the Guardian.